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Column Adriaan Mout | Hair in the wind

21 August 2019

Cobouw adriaan mout 190821 met de haren in de wind

For me, vacation is a combination of clearing the head and gaining inspiration at the same time. During our warmest week ever recorded in the Netherlands, I did exactly that with my hair in the hot breeze, cycling through the Netherlands. How small are the distances actually and how big are the contrasts! Large cities, adorable villages, nature, agriculture: within a few hours of cycling you get a taste of the composition of this country. It makes you realize again what a small country we actually have, with an attractive alternation between open and densed. With greenery and stone and with compact cities, from which you reach the surrounding landscape quickly. What is also striking is the ubiquitous presence of water. From the mighty IJsselmeer to the smallest, never discovered rivers. Is our country full or empty?

It is full compared to France, where I cycled one week later. Great, expansive landscapes with hidden historic towns. But between the landscape and the town there is mostly a horribly ugly commercial ring. The ugliness and plumpness of the supermarch├ęs, car companies and so on can hardly be described. In our country, on the other hand, the beautiful transition from landscape to buildings is striking. Although another trend is also visible here and the French danger is lurking.

Is our country full or empty? It remains a difficult case and depends on how you look at it. Our country is compact, which has major advantages. Our open space is limited, therefore transitions are all the more important and we must not go the French way. But the limited space also leads to mega stalls that literally and figuratively stink. The current nitrogen discussion also has everything to do with full and empty. An unstable balance. I would say: cycle through our country, with your hair and nose in the wind. A tip for our nitrogen minister, too.

August 2019,